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May. 12 2010 - 9:03 pm | 815 views | 1 recommendation | 6 comments

The War on Drugs is a War on Liberty, Not to Mention Good Taste

True/Slant contributor Ethan Epstein has taken issue with the perpetuation of certain arguments in opposition to the War on Drugs, specifically those that relate to the recent video depicting a small cadre of fascist gunmen breaking into the house of an American citizen and shooting his dog in order to stem the non-existent flow of marijuana from the fellow’s home. I shall here attempt to refute Epstein’s own refutation line-by-line.

As I’ve pointed out in this space previously, opponents of the Drug War make a number of misleading and illogical claims in pressing their case for legalization.

This is very possibly true to some extent, and perhaps Epstein shall provide us with some examples of this dynamic, which presumably does not apply to the wholly rational supporters of the Drug War, forged as they were in the mind of Plato and thus subject to no imperfections of the sort that might cause someone to make an illogical claim. I will stop being sarcastic long enough to clarify that I am making the assertion that supporters of the War on Drugs have made all manner of substantially ridiculous claims in the course of acting against the right of the individual to consume such substances as he sees fit, although such assertions do not seem to bother Epstein for some reason that I will go ahead and assume has to do with this fellow’s own support for such ridiculous policies as are currently in place.

Their’s is a case built on sand – or rocks, as the case may be. They claim that the Drug War “causes” drug violence, disregarding the nature of people who sell hard drugs in the first place.

Likewise, the criminally-natured thugs who sold moonshine during Prohibition will always be in control of the alcohol trade regardless of whether or not alcohol becomes a legitimate business, which is why Brooklyn storefronts are still being blown up by rival bootleggers. Oops, I’m being sarcastic again! At any rate, perhaps I can be forgiven for not being convinced that Ethan Epstein is familiar enough with distributors of hard drugs to deliver an opinion on their collective “nature.” Suffice to say that if such a nature were anything akin to what Epstein would have you believe it to be, the violent crime rate in this drug-happy nation would be far higher than it actually is. For the most part, hard drug dealers are businessmen. Occasionally they settle disputes among themselves by way of violence; such is the tendency when one’s consensual profession has been outlawed by a given society, which provides no legal recourse for redress of wrongs. Again, look to Prohibition. Or don’t. I’m not going to tell you what to do as if I were some War on Drugs proponent.

They foist misleading statistics, downplaying the dangers that heroin, cocaine, and other hard drugs present.

Some certainly do. Likewise, War on Drugs proponents have been known to overstate the dangers of certain drugs to such a hilarious extent that their propaganda is treated as camp by everyone who is even vaguely familiar with the actual effects of such drugs. The two groups may be said to be in some sort of parity in that regard when the pro-Prohibition forces can sit around laughing at the output of anti-Prohibitionists without having to explain to each other why such output is so amusing. Until that time, the reasonably intelligent among them, such as Epstein, would do well to consider what it might mean that the folks with whom they have thrown in their lot are incapable of producing anything at all that is not so deranged and inherently ridiculous as to be a source of entertainment for those on my side of the issue.

They claim that the Drug War’s failure is a reason to stop the Drug War – as if the fact that there are still poor people is a reason to call off the War on Poverty.

I would ask everyone to consider the possibility that any failed war, whether the real sort or the sort that is designated as such for reasons of internal propaganda, ought to prompt a great deal of introspection by virtue of having failed. As for the comparison to the War on Poverty, I would also note that it is very possible that a “war” in which some great number of American citizens are imprisoned without having acted in a coercive manner towards anyone else ought to be given more scrutiny than a “war” in which some great number of citizens are provided with bread and circuses to no great effect. It’s also worth noting that the perceived failure of the War on Drugs is not at all the central argument of my side, much less the sole one, and that such an argument is not at all unreasonable when coupled with other arguments regarding the morality and purpose of such a policy as this. To recap, Epstein would be right to criticize us for opposing the War on Drugs merely by virtue of it having failed thus far; but that is not what we are doing. Rather, we are pointing out that this stupid, counterproductive policy – more akin as it is to something one come across in Communist China or some Islamic dictatorship – is not only fascist in intent and effect, but also not even capable of producing the result that its proponents would like to see. Epstein can only succeed in portraying this as some sort of unreasonable position to the extent that he is able to successfully obfuscate the issue; I suspect that his sort will have no better luck in that regard than they have in restricting my access to marijuana.

They say that drug addiction is a “disease,” and that therefore drugs should be legalized. (I’m still scratching my head over that one, too.)

I’ll bet; you have managed to convince yourself that it is somehow bizarre to object to the imprisonment of those who suffer from a “disease.” Incidentally, I do not consider addiction to be a “disease” in any meaningful sense of the term, but even so I do not consider the argument to be inherently contradictory, perhaps because I have not intentionally misunderstood it as Epstein appear to have done in this instance.

And they say that legalizing drugs will halt drug smuggling, disregarding the fact that booze, tobacco, and Louis Vuitton purses – all legal substances – are smuggled in mass quantities.

I will not insult my own readers further by pointing out what is hilarious about this particular argument. Anyway, I believe that we are done here. I’m going to get drunk. Now, where did I put the pager number for my mafia hooch hook-up?


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  1. collapse expand

    Thanks for the post Barrett. I really enjoy Epstein’s writing style and dry sense of humor. I read most of what he writes here and even occasionally agree with him. One thing that you omitted to point out is that he can be a real pain in the ass.

  2. collapse expand

    Wars on Abstract Nouns appear to involve collateral, but still quite destructive, wars on logic and critical thinking.

  3. collapse expand

    Why do you have to hate freedom so much, bro?

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    About Me

    I'm the author of Flock of Dodos: Behind Modern Creationism, Intelligent Design, and the Easter Bunny; my second book, Hot, Fat & Clouded: The Amazing and Amusing Failures of America’s Chattering Class (Being a Partial Record of the Incompetence of Our Republic's Mainstream Pundits, Most of Whom Deserve to be Exiled or at Least Have Their Cars Vandalized), will be released in 2010. I'm a contributor to Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Skeptic, and The Onion, and my work has appeared in dozens of other publications and outlets. I also serve as director of communications for Enlighten the Vote, a political action committee dedicated to the advancement of the Establishment Clause.

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